The "Add The Words" campaign, which has pushed unsuccessfully this year for lawmakers to consider legislation adding the words "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the Idaho Human Rights Act to ban discrimination on that basis in housing and employment, will hold a vigil on the Statehouse steps on Thursday evening to "shed some final light on a dark legislative session," the group said in a news release. It's asking supporters to bring flashlights, cell phones or other non-flame producing light, as open flames aren't allowed on the steps. Spokeswoman Mistie Tolman said the group's hopes to introduce the bill in the House State Affairs Committee have been dashed, after a Senate panel earlier voted against introducing it.
The group has gathered more than 2,000 messages of support from Idahoans for the law change this year on colorful sticky notes, which it posted in the Capitol, though the notes were immediately removed. Click below for the group's full news release.
Add The Words to shed some final light on a dark legislative session
This Thursday March 15th the Add the Words organization will host their final event of this legislative session. Beginning at 8:00PM the group will have an artificial light, night time vigil on the steps of the State Capitol. Statehouse rules prohibit the use of an open flame on the steps however in these dark times the group intends on shedding light on the situation another way. Supporters from all over the Treasure Valley are asked to bring flashlights, LED candles, cell phone light, or any other non-flame producing light they wish to use. Idaho Human Rights Leaders will be speaking at the rally to share their feelings as the session comes to a dark conclusion.
This year hundreds of supporters gathered in the chambers of the Senate State Affairs Committee to hear the verdict of whether or not the proposed bill which would add the words, “Sexual Orientation” and “Gender Identity” to the Idaho Human Rights Act would be printed. The print request was denied and now the House State Affairs Committee has chosen to give no consideration to the bill as well.
This year volunteers working on the campaign have posted sticky notes in the statehouse carrying the messages of Idahoans from all across the state. The messages are of hope and support of the amendment saying anything from “Please Add the Words” to more personal messages of loss due to discrimination.
This Thursday will be the organizations final event and the last opportunity to share anyone’s message this year. "We encourage everyone who knows or loves a gay or transgender person to come down Thursday night and help us show how unacceptable it is for the legislature to deny this bill a public hearing and serious consideration for yet another year. The most basic show of respect for the thousands across the state who live in fear would be to hold a public hearing this year,” said Mistie Tolman, spokesperson for Add the Words.
"Many people fail to understand that 'Sexual Orientation' and 'Gender Identity' are traits that all people have. If for example you were a straight man in the State technically you could be fired by someone or denied education and housing by someone who just wanted to rent or hire or educate gay people. We believe discrimination in any form is wrong and that it is time that no one should face discrimination because of who they love," said Lisa Perry, Add the Words organizer. The Idaho Gay and Transgender community provide a lot of the support for the bill because they are the Idahoans that are suffering due to failed protections.
Add the Words Idaho is an all volunteer organization of people all across Idaho working to demonstrate the level of public support for inclusion of gay and transgender Idahoans in the state's laws banning discrimination in employment, housing education and public accommodation. Add the Words has gathered over 2000 messages to Idaho legislators written on sticky notes from people in more than 60 Idaho towns. http://addthewords.org